And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Indians 3, Blue Jays 0: Amazing! A perfect game for Len Barker! It was cold and damp at Municipal Stadium last night, so it must have been hard to hit anyway, but regardless, Barker’s stuff was incredible.  He never even reached ball three against any Blue Jay hitter.  This Barker looks so fantastic that I’d be fine with my Braves trading away, oh,  Brett Butler, Brook Jacoby, Rick Behenna and $150,000 cash for him two years from now.

At least I assume this game happened last night, as it was on the channel that normally broadcasts Indians games around here. I watched it and, because it is my job, I dutifully report it to you. Gotta admit, though: it’s strange that the Blue Jays would sign Danny Ainge at this point. He’s 52-years-old for cryin’ out loud.

Mets 9, Rockies 5: Carlos Beltran. Carlos Beltran. Carlos Beltran. 3 for 5, 3 HR, 6 RBI.  And I assume that there are still Mets fans who think he’s one of the team’s big problems. For Colorado: Ubaldo Jimenez walked six in three and two-thirds.

Orioles 2, Mariners 1: Wow! Both starters — Jason Vargas and Zach Britton — shut out the opposition for nine innings and neither got a decision. Then, after Seattle finally broke through for a run in the top of the 12th, Baltimore strikes back with a single, two straight hit batsmen (really, Brandon League?) and a walkoff RBI single by J.J. Hardy.  Thirty-year-old perfect games are great and all, but I’m kind of pissed I didn’t watch this one.  I don’t know what it was like live, but I’ve got a pretty good sense of box scores, and this one reads like a ton of fun for pitching and randomness junkies like me.

Braves 6, Nationals 5: There were times in both of the first two games of this series when I said to myself “man, the Braves had a chance to win this, and blew it.”  In this one all I could say is “the Braves had no business winning this one but did.”  Or maybe they did in some ass backwards way inasmuch as Martin Prado and Brian McCann and a host of other talented Braves hitters could not be expected to continue to not come through as often as they have not come through in key spots so far this year (believe me; as I write that sentence on Thursday evening, it makes sense to me).  Anyway, a Prado grand slam tied things up in the seventh and a Brian McCann RBI single in the 10th won it, averting the sweep at the hands of the pesky Nats.

Royals 11, Yankees 5: A good old fashioned woodshedding. This series win for Kansas City has to make some of us who have been assuming the Royals will simply wither and die take heed.  They beat the crap out of the ball, and holding the Yankees to 11 runs in three games in their home park is pretty impressive in its own right. Oh, and Eric Hosmer: 3 for 5, 2B, HR and 3 RBI.

Giants 3, Diamondbacks 2: Matt Cain allowed two runs on seven hits in seven and two-thirds. And check out this throw by Nate Schierholtz to nail Gerardo Parra trying to stretch a single into a double. Mercy.  That’s six straight wins for San Francisco.

Rays 7, Indians 4: I hit this one up yesterday.  Rather strange to have a day-night double header with two different teams, but whatever. Kind of shocked not see Joe Charboneau play both ends of this one.

Cardinals 9, Cubs 1: Another great start for Jaime Garcia, who ups his record to 5-0 with a 1.89 ERA. Not too strong for Casey Coleman, who continues to be a disaster. Jon Jay fills in for Lance Berkman in right and goes 3 for 6 with a double and 3 RBI. Maybe it’s just something about right field on the Cardinals this year.  Either way, doppelganger Tony La Russa approves.

Dodgers vs. Pirates: POSTPONED: I try to tie all of these into a rain theme of some sort, and the first thing that popped into my head here was “I bless the rains down in Africa” from the Toto song “Africa.”  Which then led me to find this wonderful, irony-drenched cover of “Africa” by Low. And no, no amount of irony can atone for lyrics like “sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti.”  Note to simile writers: when the thing you’re comparing something to (Olympus) is less impressive than the thing you’re comparing (Kilimanjaro), your simile has failed.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.